Pilot & Feasibility Program

NORC_Pilot and Feasiblity Menu
The primary objective of the Pilot & Feasibility Grant Program is to support the development of innovative research in nutrition and obesity. The program is specifically designed to help investigators collect preliminary data sufficient enough to support a grant application for independent research support and published work.

Project Criteria

Pilot & Feasibility (P&F)projects may be biomedical, epidemiological, clinical or translational. They may include laboratory or non-laboratory research projects that focus either on human nutrition or on animal work that could be translated to human nutrition. Human nutrition projects may focus on inpatient or outpatient studies or on epidemiological/community-based research that is social or behavioral in nature.

Applicant Eligibility

P&F funding is limited to investigators who hold faculty appointments at UNC.  Postdoctoral fellows or their equivalent are not eligible.  Eligible investigators must fall into one of three categories (1) new investigators without current or past NIH research support as a PI; (2) established investigators who are new to the nutrition/obesity field and wish to apply their expertise to a research area of direct interest to the NORC; or (3) established investigators in nutrition/obesity research who propose testing a new or innovative idea that represents a clear departure from their current research.


The NORC funds 1-year grants up to $20,000. The actual amount of the award and number of awards made will depend upon the quality of the proposals received and the availability of funding. Expenditures may begin at any time after the project’s start date (April 1st); however, the entire award should be expended within one year of receipt. Renewal for a second year of funding is possible for meritorious projects that have made appropriate progress during the first year. P&F funding is not intended for the extension of projects for which it would be appropriate to submit a research project grant application. Funds are also not intended to support or supplement ongoing research projects.

Application Process

Pre-Proposals. Applicants are asked to submit a NIH-style biosketch and a pre-proposal application form that describes their proposed project. The pre-proposal should exactly follow the format that is given on the application form. Applications are limited to one page and should be written in Arial 11 font. All requested documentation is due to Liz Breitwise via email. The review committee will evaluate the pre-proposals and notify all applicants of their decision. Selected applicants will be invited to submit a full proposal.

Full Proposals. Full proposals are limited to five pages and must follow the general format of an NIH exploratory / developmental research grant (R21). Applicants are required to use PHS 398 grant forms where appropriate. Proposals must be single-spaced and use an approved NIH 11-point font type (Arial, Helvetica, Palatino or Georgia). A complete application package should include the following items:

  • Application Cover Sheet
  • Scientific and Lay Abstracts
  • Research Plan
  • Budget & Budget Justification
  • Biosketch & Other Support
  • Letter(s) of Support

P&F Awardees

Since the inception of the program in 1999, the NORC has awarded $2.3 million to 58 investigators in support of new and innovative research in nutrition and obesity. Based on their P&F pilot data, our awardees have received over $42.2 million in external research support. The majority of this external funding ($39 million) has been awarded from the National Institutes of Health.

norc_pf progress table

Figure 1. Dollars Spent vs. Grant Support Received

2017 Awardees

Edward Moreira Bahnson, PhD
Assistant Professor of Surgery
Project: Development of a New Animal Model of Dyslipidemia, Atherosclerosis, and Diabetes in Obese Rats

Jimena Giudice, PhD
Tenure-Track Assistant Professor of Cell Biology and Physiology
Project: Alternate Splicing and Nutrient Uptake: Effects on Striated Muscle Homeostasis During Postnatal Development

Damaris Nadia Lorenzo, PhD
Assistant Professor of Cell Biology and Physiology
Project: Regulation of Adipose Tissue Metabolism by ankyrin-B

Fernando Pardo-Manuel de Villena, PhD
Professor of Genetics
Abbie Smith-Ryan, PhD, CSCS, CISSN
Assistant Professor of Exercise and Sports Science
Project: Genetic Detreminants on the Physiological Response to Exercise: A Sex Evaluation

2016 Awardees

Rosa Tamara Branca, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy
Project: Assessment of Beige Fat Thermogenic Activity and its Contribution to Whole Body Metabolism by Hyperpolarized 129Xe gas MRI and Metabolic Chamber Studies

Natalia Krupenko, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Nutrition
Project: Liver Metabolism in CerS6 KO Mice

Fernando Pardo-Manuel de Villena, PhD
Professor, Department of Genetics
Project: Genetic Determinants on the Physiological Response to Exercise: A Sex Evaluation

Jason Kyle Whitmire, PhD
Assistant Professor, Departments of Genetics and Microbiology & Immunology
Project: Consequences of Adipose-T cell Interactions on Long-Term Immunity

2014 Awardees

Kyle Burger, RD, MPH, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Nutrition
Project: Reward Region Plasticity to Regular Beverage Intake: An fMRI Experiment

Nigel Mackman, PhD, FAHA
Professor, School of Medicine
Project:Role of Macrophage Tissue Factor in Diet Induced Obesity

Saskia Neher, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics
Project: Search for a Conserved Binding Motif among LPL Inhibitors

Maya Styner, MD
Assistant Professor, School of Medicine
Project: Response of Marrow Adipose Compartment to Diet and Exercise

Contact Us

Rosalind Coleman, MD
Professor, Nutrition and Pediatrics
2301 Michael Hooker Research Center
CB# 7461
(919) 966-7213

  • Director, Pilot & Feasibility Grant Program
  • Responsible for arranging and coordinating the review process for grant submissions, monitoring project progress, and serving as a mentor for awardees
  • Contact for specific questions regarding the P&F program

Managing Director

  • Contact for general questions regarding the P&F program